How to Design a Presentation

Learn how to go from presentation zero to presentation hero with our guide to designing and giving presentations.

Portrait for EnvatoBy Envato  |  Updated June 15, 2022

There are two types of people who give presentations: Presentation HEROES and presentation ZEROS.

Presentation heroes are the ones who get the applause, land the deal, get the money and receive all the other rewards from giving an awesome presentation. Presentation zeros get exactly the opposite – crickets and people running for the nearest exit.

In today’s competitive world, to pull off a killer presentation you need to:

  • Create clean and captivating slides that appeal to people’s emotions
  • Use tools and shortcuts so you can spend your time on the important stuff
  • Think creatively… no lazy bullet points

To get you on the right path, here’s 10 clever tips on how to be a presentation hero.

Let’s jump into it.

1. Rise to the Occasion

Start early and have a checklist vs working at the 11th hour

The surest way to fail a presentation is to whip your slides together at the last minute hoping that everything comes together.

You should be aiming to do the exact opposite.

Set aside plenty of time to work on your presentation so you can make sure that everything looks perfect. By giving yourself the time you will be able to make sure the flow, the theme, and the content go above and beyond. You should also consider creating a presentation checklist so you know you covered everything.

Make sure you also include enough time to proofread. Look at the grammar and spelling (this English grammar rules post is a good refresher), as well as big picture stuff like making sure you’re telling a cohesive story with compelling copy.

Good presentation flow is about everything going together harmoniously.

2. Save Time

uses keyboard shortcuts vs always takes the long way

PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts can save you valuable time so you have time to focus on the important stuff.

For example, if you need to select all the objects on the slide, don’t select all your images one-by-one with your mouse. Instead, press Ctrl+A!

Here’s one more:

If you’ve made a mistake, instead of moving your mouse to hit the undo button simply press Ctrl+Z.

There are many keyboard shortcuts to memorize. Start with the common ones and add new ones over time.

Beyond saving you time these keyboard shortcuts will keep you in the “PowerPoint zone” by not interrupting your flow.

3. Keep Your Slides Clean

keeps slides nice and tidy vs ignores slide cleanliness

Messy slides are distracting.

When your audience gets distracted by an awkward text, unaligned images, and unbalanced clutter they won’t be paying attention to you, which the last thing you want!

Presentation heroes care about all that stuff and more. They don’t make embarrassing design mistakes like inconsistent formatting, heavy and uneven text, or mismatched color schemes. They pay attention to detail and make sure that everything looks perfect.

One of the great things about purchasing professional templates on Envato Elements is that they are created by awesome designers that understand the importance of slide cleanliness. In other words, you can rest assured that your slides will already look fresh and clean. All you have to do is make sure you keep them that way when you edit/customize them.

4. Present Info With Creative Layouts and Visuals

displays info in creative ways vs uses boring bullet points

Every hero knows that bullet points are the easiest way to put people to sleep.

Sadly, many people think using bullet points is the only way to present their information.

So, what do heroes do in instead of using bullets?

Heroes get creative with their layouts and think outside of the box. And if they ever get stuck for layout ideas they look for inspiration online. More on that in a bit.

There are so alternative ways to present bullets! As long as you’re still getting your message across, it’s better than using bullet points. If you have to use them, look for ways to dress your bullet points up.

5. Use Relevant and Beautiful Images

consistent set of nice visuals vs random, cheesy and inconsistent

It’s so tempting go into Google and grab a bunch of random (and often cliché/cheesy) images that pop up in the search results. Sadly, those easy and tempting moves are right out of the presentation zero playbook!

But what should you, as a hero, do instead?

First off, you need to develop a theme that you stick with throughout your entire slide deck. You’ll need a color palette, a set of decent fonts, and consistent images.

If you don’t develop a clear vision from the beginning, it’s going to look like you had several people work on your presentation who didn’t talk to one another. The color, font, images, and layout all need to complement each other. If you come across something that doesn’t fit your theme, don’t use it! Stick with your theme no matter what. Consistency is everything!

6. Customize PowerPoint to Make It Work for You

customizes ppt for easy access vs searches for the same tools over and over

Customizing your PowerPoint setup with your most frequently used tools will save you tons of time. Why search for the same tool over and over within the menus of PowerPoint when you can put it in an easily accessible place, like your Quick Access toolbar, where you can easily grab it?

If you don’t know how to customize your PowerPoint, you may want to consider taking a course. The benefit of learning from the experts is not only will you learn how to set up PowerPoint like a pro, but you will also learn tons of other invaluable skills that will make you look great and save you time.

7. Brainstorm First

gets inspired before design vs stares at the empty canvas

Starting with a blank PowerPoint slide can often be overwhelming and intimidating. Don’t make the mistake of starring at your blank slide hoping ideas will magically come to mind. Be a hero and get the ball rolling by searching for inspiration first:

Ideas flow when inspiration is all around you! “Motion creates emotion” is one of our favorite sayings, and popular amongst the heroes too. Finding PowerPoint inspiration will get the ball rolling and the creativity flowing.

And of course, we won’t leave you high and dry without some sources of inspiration. Here are some of best places to get inspired for creating PowerPoint slides. The internet is a vast place – find a place that inspires you!

8. Use Many Tools to Get the Job Done

uses many tools when designing vs uses only a few tools

Presentation professionals know that many tools are needed for the job.

In other words, they keep an extensive set of tools with them when creating slides. They know what tools to use, at the right time, to make their presentation stand out.

For example, have you heard of the Eyedropper Fill tool? In PowerPoint, you can match the colors of your shapes (or other things) to the colors of an image you inserted.

Presentation heroes use tools like this for all their diverse needs. There are different tools for editing objects and visuals, copying formatting, aligning objects, cropping images, and much more! Tools do not just have to be what’s available in PowerPoint. There are many online tools and add-ins available also.

9. Practice, Practice, Practice

practices many times vs wings the presentation

Practice makes perfect, and no practice makes an awkward, rambling, and incoherent presentation. No secret as to which one the hero is!

There are so many mistakes that get made when you don’t spend enough time practicing your presentation. You can lose your train of thought, accidentally say things in the wrong place, and generally coming off like you didn’t care enough to adequately prepare. That’s probably not the impression you want to make.

Heroes practice over and over until they are fully comfortable. Practicing helps you sound more natural, remember your points so you don’t have to look at your slides or your flashcards as much, iron out the awkward parts, and just give you a better overall understanding of the flow.

Heroes don’t just practice in front of a mirror, either – they practice in front of other people! Fresh eyes and ears can be just what you need to pick out mistakes you’ve missed and give you invaluable feedback.

10. Learn How to Design Like a Pro

learns rules of good design vs has no clue about design

Chances are you were not born a presentation hero.

If you want to create great-looking PowerPoint slides you’ve got to put in some work – and that mostly means learning from the right resources and putting what you learned into action.

We recommend checking out all sorts of resources. We love presentation creation books like Slides Made Simple, Talk Like Ted, and Slideology. Learning from others is the fastest way to becoming a pro yourself! Or, check out our blog on the top presentation trends for 2021.

The point is that there is a presentation community that loves beautiful slides and amazing presentations just as much as we do, and we’re glad to be in their company. Put all that collective knowledge to work!


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